In Chapter 1 different phases of the application of exegetical methods with regard to texts in the New Testament were identified. Each phase provided a different perspective in response to questions about the contextuality of the New Testament. From the overview it became clear that the investigation of the historical background had received some attention, but it had not been as effectively utilized in the hermeneutical process as it could be, and had not been taken seriously enough. In Chapter 2, the place and function of the historical context or background of the New Testament in historical criticism, literary criticism and social scientific methods of exegesis were evaluated. Historical criticism often focuses on the different parts (forms) of the text, but does not consider the text as a whole to the degree required. Literary criticism focuses on the text as a whole. The Gospels are regarded as narrative texts. Narratology foregrounds the spatial aspects or topology of the Gospels. Socio-historical research on the world of the text, contributes to the study of the background of the New Testament. To enhance the progress already made, historical criticism and literary criticism can be supplemented by applying selected social scientific models. The use of such models makes it possible for socio-historical data to be systematized in a holistic interpretive framework. The use of social scientific models can bridge the historical distance between the text and its readers to avoid fallacies based on anachronism and ethnocentrism. A social scientific approach provides a holistic frame of reference for the interpretation of Biblical texts. However the approach may not pay enough attention to the topological or spacial aspects of the Gospel of Matthew. The model of advanced agrarian society and the pre-industrial city have not yet been applied effectively to the Gospel of Matthew. The current study fills this gap. In the study the model in terms of which an advanced agrarian society can be descibed, is used as a broad frame of reference within which the place and function of the Biblical jubilee can be studied. This diachronic overview of the research on the Biblical jubilee (Chapter 3) shows that no such study has as yet been undertaken with regard to the Biblical jubilee. Ancient economy developed from a simplistic agrarian society to an advanced agrarian society. The Roman Empire was the result of a long evolutionary process. Land was the primary economic resource in a self-sufficient society. The aim of the current research was to show that the socio-economic background of the first century forms the context within which the land and jubilee can be understood. The socio-economic background can be interpreted within a holistic perspective of first-century Mediterranean society. The social scientific model of advanced agrarian society includes four factors (family institutions, pre-industrial city, land tenancy and social stratification) that all influenced the land and economy of the first-century Mediterranean world. In Chapter 6, homomorphic models were used to simplify important and representative aspects of complex social structures, behaviour and relations. These models were used for the study of the political, economic and social systems of an empire or government. The current study used the social scientific model of advanced agrarian society as frame of reference for the interpretation of the place and function of the Biblical jubilee in the Gospel of Matthew.
Dissertation (DD(New Testament Studies))--University of Pretoria, 2001.
Smit, Gerrit Daniel Stephanus(Department of Ancient Languages, University of Pretoria, 2007)
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